If God is omnipotent, couldn't he have destroyed everything except the good people and their belongings?
Genesis 19:1 - 38
ESV - 1 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth 2 And said, "My lords, please turn aside to your servant's house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way." They said, "No; we will spend the night in the town square.
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If God had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, while not requiring Lot and his daughters to leave in order to survive, I would say that their situation would not have been any better than allowing them to flee to Zoar (as Lot requested) in order to be spared. There would have been no means of subsistence remaining in Sodom, since everything was destroyed, including sources of food (Genesis 20:25), which God apparently regarded as a necessary judgment of the city's sin. Also, God had previously said to Abraham in Genesis 18:32 that He would spare the cities completely if as few as ten righteous persons could be found there, but there was not even that small number. And, in fact, the only righteous persons (Lot and his two daughters) were saved. Another possible reason that occurs to me for not allowing Lot and his family to remain in Sodom while being spared was that it was through the necessity to flee that the disobedient nature of Lot's sons-in-law (Genesis 19:14) was revealed, as well as of Lot's wife (Genesis 19:26), which Jesus Himself later used as a teaching point (Luke 17:32-33) to His followers to always be ready for His return by being unencumbered by possessions or by thoughts of other temporal or earthly things that they would be leaving behind.
The Bible is not only a collection of stories and events meant to inform and entertain us – the Bible is also “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). With the story of Sodom and Gomorrah God gave us an example of the Day of Judgment (Luke 17:24-31). Like the Exodus from Egypt or Noah’s flood, the Sodom and Gomorrah is an OT example of things to come. Yes, God could have saved Lot and his family without having them leave Sodom, but this is not how God operates. He chooses His people to be special and holy, and separate from the rest of the world (1 Peter 2:9). God is going to destroy this sinful world with fire (2 Peter 3:11, 12), just as He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. If back then, God asked Lot to physically leave Sodom, today He is asking His people to spiritually leave the place of destruction: “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues” (Rev 18:4,5). The parallels between Sodom and Gomorrah and the Judgment Day, and the spiritual exodus from the corrupt religions around us, show how God reveals to His people future events by giving us actual historic examples so no one will be unprepared or confused about what will happen.
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